Winter Blueberry Maintenance at Finnriver Farm

Posted on: January 9th, 2012 by

Finnriver Farm and Cidery

On a late August visit to Finnriver Farm and Cidery I viewed an abundance of blueberries. But when winter comes, a lot of work goes into making sure a bounty of berries are available in the warmer months. Here’s what blueberry bushes look like in the winter:

Blueberry Bushes in Winter

Though barren, I actually find them quite attractive. I like the color of the branches; it really stands out against the January landscape. And if you look closer, you’ll see that there is some fruit still clinging to the bushes, ominously named mummy berries.

Mummy Berries
Mummy berry is a fungus that survives in fallen berries over the winter then releases spores in the spring. And since it is spread by rain, the extremely wet 2011 on the Olympic Peninsula meant a lot of mummy berries. So you have to get rid of them. Finnriver Farm employs two methods of mummy berry removal.

Ducks

Ducks are deployed to eat the fallen berries, and they are also fed strategically in the landing zone. In the feeding frenzy that ensues, mummy berries get gobbled up as well. (I can safely say that I am using literally correct when I say it was literally a feeding frenzy. Seriously, keep your distance. These ducks will not be denied and I pity the person who dares stand in their way.)

The other method employed for mummy berry removal involves human labor. In this case, me.

 

Jameson Fink Wine Without Worry

I highly recommend having a fully-loaded iPod with a wide variety of podcasts for this work. It’s also nice to have some ducks around to keep you company.

Jameson Fink Wine Without Worry

All this winter work not only ensures blueberries for eating, but also for drinking. The Finnriver Blueberry Wine with Apple Brandy is a sweet way to end a meal. It is a mix of blueberries from the farm (at least a half-dozen varieties) and some purchased fruit. Subtly flavored with cloves and lemon peel, I recommend pouring it over ice cream or on top of cheesecake. Or splash some into the bottom of a Champagne flute and fill the rest with Cava or Prosecco for a fantastic accompaniment to Sunday brunch.

Is it Sunday yet?

Blueberry

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5 Responses

  1. Leslie says:

    I agree re the color of those branches. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing, I’d no idea about mummy berries before…

    • Jameson says:

      Leslie,

      I read the farm intern manual, a thick three-ring binder! I also learned that blueberries and Rhododendrons are part of the same family. Thanks for reading and the nice comment.

      Jameson

  2. I had the unique pleasure of visiting Finnriver on the last day of 2011, including walking the path down to the bridge over the salmon stream and encountering the vociferous and ravenous ducks on the way happily performing their duty in the blueberry fields. Didn’t know about the mummy berries – fascinating!
    Must say I truly enjoyed the Finnriver experience; the place, the people and the resulting bottled brews. Expecting my case of assorted delights to arrive any day now!

    • Jameson says:

      William,

      Thank you for your nice comment. It’s always great to hear from people who have visited Finnriver and are as charmed by the experience as I am. And I added “A Feast at the Beach” to my reading list; I look forward to picking up a copy when I get back to Seattle.

      Best,

      Jameson

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